Two days before the Cal Bears’ first game, and for most of the offseason, Cal’s athletic director Sandy Barbour was saying there’s no way head football coach Jeff Tedford was on the hot seat. The 11th year coach was fine, supposedly, even after a 7-6 2011 season and a record of 20-18 over the last three seasons.
While it’s hard to tell what the expectations are in Berkeley, this kind of mediocrity is usually not okay with most major-conference schools (unless you’re Indiana, in which case you’d kill for that kind of mediocrity). This is especially true with Tedford’s reputation as a football genius, though his teams haven’t been very much above mediocre since the 2006 season.
Then the Bears’ 31-24 loss to Nevada happened on Saturday.
The Wolfpack racked up 450 total yards, including 220 rushing, and dominated the time of possession by 10 minutes. All this in the debut of Cal’s $300 million new stadium, which was finally free of tree people.
While the Bears had two turnovers on Saturday, they lost because they just weren’t very good in every phase of the game, and that’s got to have Tedford’s critics howling. Cal was one of the more competitive teams in the Pac-10 in the early to mid 2000’s. However, the rise of Oregon and Stanford and the re-rise of USC have left the Bears far in the dust in terms of recruiting and on-field success.
Literally everything about this team has to get better if the Bears are ever going to compete again in the Pac-12. Apparently, including the way Tedford handles his quarterbacks, which is drawing criticism even from his own players:
“To an extent, yes I do,” said wide receiver Keenan Allen, who had a brilliant 39-yard end-around run for a touchdown in the third quarter. “All camp Zach’s been with the ones (starters). We haven’t taken many reps with Bridg. … It definitely would have helped us if Bridg had taken the reps in practice.”
He was talking about quarterback Zach Maynard taking virtually all the snaps with the starters only to have backup Allan Bridgford start the game (and go 1-for-8, by the way). Tedford insisted that Maynard knew since June he wouldn’t start, but apparently didn’t tell the rest of the offense. You’d think that would be something of an important detail but whatever. The Bears haven’t had a quarterback worth mentioning since Aaron Rodgers left in 2004.
Following the Nevada debacle, Cal has a home game Saturday against Southern Utah, so they’ll likely be 1-1 heading into two road games at Ohio State and USC. This of course means Cal could well be 1-4 heading into their final seven games and they’ll still have to play Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Most fans (and probably athletic directors too) have to be looking at the schedule and wondering how the hell the Bears are going to make a bowl game if they can’t even beat Nevada at home. And, therefore, if the Bears don’t make a bowl, it sure seems like Tedford’s hold on the Cal job is getting looser by the week.